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Touch for Regulation

August 21, 2021 @ 1:00 pm 5:00 pm PDT

Using Touch to Support
Physiological and Emotional Regulation:
An experiential workshop 

Michael Shiffman, PhD, LMFT

August 21, 2021

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm PST
Somatically Safe via Zoom


This workshop will introduce therapists to use self-touch with clients to enhance their neurophysiological and neuroaffective regulation.  Attachment insults, developmental deficits and implicit memories can be repaired by increasing clients somatic awareness and deconstructing their somatic holding patterns.  

The use of touch in psychotherapy for the repair of early attachment ruptures and trauma resolution is not new.  Competent, ethical psychotherapists have used intentional physical contact since the early 1930’s.  What is new is that there is current neurobiological data that supports the efficacy for the use of touch for the resolution of pre-verbal relational trauma.  Therapists trained in the use of touch enhance their therapeutic relationships even when they do not touch their clients.  We can help direct them to increased awareness and regulation through self-touch.

When a clinician skillfully uses touch they engage a client’s attention inward to their interoceptive experience—chronic bracing and collapse patterns, organ vibrations and energetic sensitivitiesand help bring awareness to these internal experiences. The skillful use of touch engages the felt-sense in a dialogue that leads to a felt-self emotional integration. In the repair of the self, which spans all developmental stages, we can directly address dissociated and dysregulated states of fragmentation that interfere with the capacity for self-awareness and self-regulation.

Part 1 will review the human need for touch and the role of physical contact in normal human development.  We will review legal, ethical and clinical issues related to touching clients.  We will discuss the use of touch for the resolution of pre-verbal relational trauma, the integration of implicit traumatic memories, and the stabilizing of dysregulated nervous systems.

Part 2 will start with a discussion of the role of touch in neurophysiological regulation revisiting polyvagal theory with attention to enteroception.  We will explore different forms of self-touch that can be employed via Zoom and during in-person sessions.  Using experiential exercises we will bore deeply into where, how and why touch increases stability and nervous system regulation.

Part 3 will address dynamics that associate somatic patterning with emotional reactions.  We will identify coupling patterns and explore effective interventions for their release.  We will examine chronic holding patterns as well as traumatic reactions during distress.  Using self-touch we will integrate didactics with experiential exercises.

Part 4 will bring theory and practice together through an exploration of personal experiences and client case presentations. 

At the end of this workshop participants will be able to:

  1. Define neurophysiological and neuroaffective regulation;
  2. Identify somatic holding patterns;
  3. Assess appropriate somatic interventions;
  4. Describe a neurophysiological somatic intervention;
  5. Describe a neuroaffective somatic intervention;
  6. Explain how implicit memories respond to somatic interventions;
  7. Explain how implicit memories have explicit somatic symptoms.


Michael Shiffman, PhD, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT #122513) in private practice in Los Angeles.  Michael is a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP), a certified Neuroaffective Relational Model Therapist (NARM), a Level 2 PACT Couple Therapist, and is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  Michael is uniquely trained in the use of touch for trauma resolution and attachment repair.

Michael sees individuals and couples, and runs groups.  His clinical work is mindfulness based, somatically grounded and asset oriented.  He has a substantial background working with anxiety, panic, traumatic stress, substance abuse and recovery, relapse prevention, and somatic oriented therapeutic practices. He teaches mindfulness meditation, neuroaffective regulation and somatic psychotherapy

Michael received his PhD from the UCLA department of sociology.  His academic training includes conversation analysis, social movements, labor union history, gender studies, and social psychology.  His doctoral dissertation was on family trauma and posttraumatic stress among adult children of alcoholics.  He has worked in program evaluation, health care research, grant writing and has provided technical services at UCLA and through several private computer companies.

Michael began meditating in 1994 under the guidance of Shinzen Young.  He founded LA Dharma in 1999 through which he hosted a meditation group and coordinated 20 daylong retreats and two large conferences with teachers from the Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Insight Meditation Center.  In 2002 he began teaching mindfulness meditation and has since taught beginning, intermediate and advanced meditation practices.  He studied with Shinzen Young and Jason Siff, and continues to practice with Rev. Hye Wol Sunim since 2002.  Michael loves to cook and is frequently happy at home in Encino California.  For more details visit his website at https://michaelshiffman.com.

Continuing Education

A CE certificate is included in the registration fee and is issued after the course evaluation is received.

Psychologists: The Insight Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Insight Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course is provides 4 CEs.

MFTs / LCSWs / LPCCs: The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts APA CEs. This course provides 4 CEs.


August 21
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm PDT
Event Categories:
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Michael Shiffman, PhD, LMFT
CA United States